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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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First off, Dreadlords was the name given to men and women who could channel and sided with the Shadow in the Trolloc Wars. Yes, the women were called Dreadlords, too. They might have liked to call themselves "the Chosen," like the Forsaken, but feared to. The real Forsaken might not have appreciated it when they returned, as prophecies of the Shadow foretold would happen. Some of the Dreadlords had authority and responsibility equivalent to that of the Forsaken in the War of the Shadow, however. They ran the Shadow's side of the Trolloc Wars, though without the inherent ability to command the Myrddraal that the Forsaken possess, meaning they had to negotiate with them. Overall command at the beginning was in another's hands.
Forsaken was the name given to Aes Sedai who went over to the Shadow in the War of the Shadow at the end of the Age of Legends, though of course, they called themselves the Chosen, and despite the tales of the "current" Age, there were many more than a few of them. Since they occupied all sorts of levels, you might say that many were equivalent to some of the lesser Dreadlords, but it would be incorrect to call them so. At the time, they were all Forsaken—or Chosen—from the greatest to the least.
Some of those Forsaken the Dark One killed were every bit as high-ranking as the thirteen who were remembered, and who you might say constituted a large part of the Dark One's General Staff at the time of the sealing. With the Forsaken, where treachery and backstabbing were an acceptable way of getting ahead, the turnover in the upper ranks was fairly high, though Ishamael, Demandred, Lanfear, Graendal, Semirhage, and later Sammael, were always at the top end of the pyramid. They were very skilled at personal survival, politically and physically.
In large part the thirteen were remembered because they were trapped at Shayol Ghul, and so their names became part of that story, though it turned out that details of them, stories of them, survived wide-spread knowledge of the tale of the actual sealing itself. Just that they had been sealed away. Other Forsaken were left behind, so to speak, free but in a world that was rapidly sliding down the tube. The men eventually went mad and died from the same taint that killed off the other male Aes Sedai. They had no access to the Dark One's protective filters. The women died, too, though from age or in battle or from natural disasters created by insane male Aes Sedai or from diseases that could no longer be controlled because civilization itself had been destroyed and access to those who were skilled in Healing was all but gone. And soon after their deaths, their names were forgotten, except for what might possibly be discovered in some ancient manuscript fragment that survived the Breaking. A bleak story of people who deserved no better, and not worth telling in any detail.
Channeling saidin and the taint:
As some of you know, there was a pretty big debate over this topic, especially whether Thom could or couldn't channel, which I participated in. Well, I'm happy to say that I was mostly correct in my theories.
What were the female Aes Sedai doing during the Breaking? Surely they could have got together in circles of six or thirteen or whatever, cut off one man from the Source, and gone onto the next.
Several things. Partly, you have to find the men before you can do anything. Partly, by the time they realized what was going on, it was too late. The massive geological upheavals were only a part (and not the most important part) of the Breaking. There was also the cumulative social collapse, breakdown of transportation systems, etc.. Imagine a city like Seattle that suddenly loses ALL contact with the outside world. Also, the women were (after a point) trying to preserve what they could, not fight the men directly. Finally, in order to make someone stop doing something, you have to be able to threaten them. What can you threaten a madman with, that he will listen to you and stop?
What about Mazrim Taim? Isn't his withstanding of the madness for fifteen years something exceptional? [Short segue from there to Taim=Demandred?]
After that, my friend got to ask his question, which was the one about Machin Shin and the Ways.
Is Machin Shin a result of the Dark One's taint on saidin being used in the creation of the Ways, or a result of some portion of the corruption of Shadar Logoth creeping into the Ways via the Waygate there? Or is it something completely orthogonal to both these powers, merely being a parasite that showed up once the place began to grow dim?
You don't think it's obvious? Err, let's see. You have... You're using both repulsion and attraction of opposites here. Repulsion of things that are opposite and [attraction] of things that are the same. The Taint upon [saidin] as versus the conduit, which is made of saidar through which the saidin passes. The saidin and saidar, as men and women, are in many ways opposite. It repels one another. It is safe to make this conduit of saidar between saidin and Shadar Logoth, because there can be no mixing. As the eh... as [saidin] passes through, as the taint passes through, the saidar actually repels it, pushes it away from [saidin]..., alright?
Now, you have a taint on... the eh Source, the male half of the Source, you have the taint on Shadar Logoth. They're not the same, yet they are. The taint on Shadar Logoth did not come from the Dark One. The taint was created by humans, who believed that they must do whatever was necessary, anything that was necessary to defeat the Shadow. And because they would accept no limits to what they would do, to what could be done, to what needed to be done, they created their own destruction. Their evil is, or was, as great as that of the Dark One, but diametrically opposite. It is an evil created for the best of intentions, created for good intentions. So it is the opposite. So, this attraction created the conduit begins to pull the taint from [saidin] to siphon it off. Remember, it's always been described it's not as mixed all through [saidin], it is like a thin skin of rancidness, think of a thin skin of rancid oil floating on a pond, and if you get through it, you've got clean water, but you can't get through it without putting your hand in that oil. You're getting it on your hand...
To attract one another because they are opposites, but because even being opposite, they have gone far enough around the circle, they act to destroy one another. You see, it's not opposites along a straight line. We're actually talking opposites along a circle. Continuing the motif of the Wheel of Time, if you will. So you've got two things that are both opposites and the same. [He's been waving his hands in the air for this. Hands far apart for the straight line versus hands together, making a circle and coming together again] That will both attract one another and negate one another.
Do you understand better now?
Is there a reason the Dark One could not or would not re-taint saidin?
The conditions would have to be exactly right. Those conditions were set up while the seals were being placed on the Bore. The chances that exactly those conditions would occur again are fairly small. And that is saying that it was a volitional act rather than a side-effect of trying to stop the seals from being placed. After all, if the Dark One could taint saidin at will, why could he not taint saidar as well, and why would he not have done so?
After the Breaking, men were viewed as destroyers. Also, almost all the male leadership of the world were Aes Sedai who were now dead. Add to that the dominant political force in the world for three thousand years being the all female White Tower. It's a natural consequence for women to be more dominant than not in the rest of the world.
A side note—he brought up the story thread where he introduced a misogynist (Agni Neres, the boat captain on the trip from Samara to Salidar). Instead of being angered by his attitudes, Elayne and Nynaeve are puzzled and can't understand him at all.
A question from me again (sometimes me with my horrible accent has to repeat the question a few times, for him to get it). Although if I remember correctly it was Aan'allein's question.
How did Aginor manage to sense the Shadar Logoth dagger in the The Eye of the World?
That has to do with the end of Winter's Heart. How many of you have read it?
(everyone but one raising their hands; well at least after asking who has not read it)
It's an effect of resonance. The dagger is the same evil as the evil of Shadar Logoth. You can say it's diametrically opposite to the taint, that's the evil on saidin. Rand, at one point in Shadar Logoth, feels them pulsing with each other. And especially in the wounds on his side. There is a resonance created. A positive and negative pulse of evil, you might say.
In some ways. Machin Shin is linked or you might say drawn to that. It's not a matter of linked, but more attracted by. In much the same ways as I spoke about the evils being attracted to one another due to opposite polarities. (Shadar Logoth and the taint)
In the same way there is an attraction because Machin Shin was created in effect by the taint. It grew out. You can see is at a fungus that was constructed with the wrong type of materials. If you think about it as that way you get a more idea about its true nature.
On a slightly related note, the Chosen had protection from the taint, was this something unique to the Chosen (it occurs to me actually, that said protection could only have been given AFTER they were freed from the Bore, as such a precaution would have not been needed before Lewis Therin sealed the Bore), or would all Darkfriends have such protection?
To answer my own question, I'd guess it was unique, else male Darkfriend channelers would have been at a huge advantage after the Breaking.
If I go to another signing, I'm showing up early, with a hundred copies of transcripts from the most recent online chat, and handing them out. There were all of two questions asked that weren't reruns, and one was basically a RAFO, while the other was mine.
My looney theory on the Ways was wrong—despite a 2500 year lag before anything noticeable happened, the darkening was really a taint side effect.
Getting back to Callandor, we know that you have to channel the appropriate power though a seed—saidin or saidar. So I was wondering how Callandor got True Power capability. Is it because of the flaw, or did someone channel the True Power through the seed at the time it was created?
That's an excellent question to which I do not have the answer. It's not one I had considered.
Somebody had said when I posted in the Facebook re-readers group that there is a theory that the capability might be due to the Taint, but I wasn't sure that was the case.
I believe it was made intentionally to do what it did for a specific use. Not what it ended up being used for. I don't think it was used for that. I think it was built—you're going to have to clear it with Maria—I think it was built to be a trap for one of the male Forsaken.
What created the Black Wind in the Ways?
I have no idea.
I believe Robert Jordan may have answered some questions about this at certain times, so if you look at the fan archives of questions, people have asked a lot of questions about this one, you may be able to get some clues there.
RJ said that the Black Wind (Machin Shin) grew in the Ways like a parasite as a result of the taint on saidin.
I don't know.
I asked Brandon about that one too.
I would have to really look at it and check the notes; it's not something that I know right off the top....
I recently saw something about that in the notes, but I'm not remembering exactly what it said.
Do you happen to know anything about Ishamael's plan with the Eye, because it seems like he was trying to lead them there; why did he keep mentioning the Eye? Did he have a dream about it or something? You don't know?